Olmi: A revolutionary farewell to cinema
by Camillo de Marco
"No religion will ever force me to respect its rules and not respect humankind. Dogmas must not be more important that men": such is the guiding principle behind Ermanno Olmi’s new film, Cento chiodi (One Hundred Nails) [+see also:
film profile], which will be distributed on 100 screens by Mikado on March 30.
The film is a Christological apologue that tells the story of a successful, young philosophy professor who abandons his world of books to live on the banks of the river Po, befriending the locals who are under threat from the construction of a river port.
A spiritual testament of sorts, the film also marks the last feature for the 76 year-old master filmmaker from Bergamo, who from now on wants to dedicate his time entirely to making documentaries.
Produced by Luigi Musini and Roberto Cicutto with Cinema11 and RAI Cinema, and a contribution from MiBAC, Cento chiodi stars Israeli actor Raz Degan (as the professor/Christ figure) and a host of superb non-professional actors, whom Olmi has always favoured in his films (see the Making of of the film).
Through poetic and sober images, Olmi suggests a way of life modelled after Jesus ("placing forgiveness at the centre of life, that is, renouncing an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth") and calls for a return to simplicity ("we must distinguish the essential from the superfluous") in a world dominated by fast food.
Citing philosopher Karl Jaspers, Olmi invokes an act of folly: "Even spirituality has become a form of profit and art is the masquerade of the lives we are living. To go beyond all of this we must commit an act of folly, which is not a subversive bomb. A symbolic, rebellious gesture, like Saint Francis and his dispossession".
Ciccutto says that Cento chiodi is currently being considered for the Cannes Film Festival but adds: "I don’t know if it will be selected but it will surely not be in competition, as Olmi himself does not want this".
(Translated from Italian)
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